These Women Created the Future of Booking Live Entertainment
By Nicole Baksinskas
Music City undoubtedly provides a considerable pool of musical talent. But how does one seamlessly discover and hire those live acts for their next event?
That’s where companies like EVAmore (Events, Venues, Artists and more) step in. The online platform automates the process of booking live entertainment for private events from beginning to end. Event planners can browse diverse genres and a hand-picked selection of professional and reliable artists guaranteed to have a strong digital presence and recorded material. Set the date, time and budget, and request to book—then wait for the artist to confirm.
When EVAmore CEO Channing Moreland and COO Makenzie Stokel met as music business and songwriting majors during freshman orientation at Belmont University, they bonded over a shared love of music events. Near the end of their freshman year, partly motivated by not yet meeting the age requirement set by most venues, they started creating events on their own for the college community.
“We started putting all the pieces together—event production, sponsorships, bands and food—because we enjoyed it and wanted to,” Moreland said. “That’s where there were some issues when we tried to book all these bands: load-in, communication, contracting, payments—it can get messy. We saw that was where we could automate live events. It was a little selfish at first because we were just creating these events for ourselves.”
In August 2016, three months after their graduation, Moreland and Stokel launched EVAmore with the help of investor funding and Project Music, a 14-week music-tech accelerator program.
Project Music, offered through the Nashville Entrepreneur Center, brings music, tech and business leaders together to nurture startups desiring to grow music industry revenue. Moreland and Stokel, the youngest participants and only women in the program, solidified their concept within days of entering the program. They were confident in its potential not only because of their own experience, but also because of extensive research and interviews that proved their technology product would be valuable.
“We knew EVAmore would work because we really listened to customers,” Stokel said. “When we saw our biggest pain point was managing bands for events, we realized this was an issue. Then we went and found social chairs and event planners and listened to a ton of them.
“During our entire senior year, we traveled on our days off and knocked on doors and asked, ‘What’s the issue here?’ Out came a binder with all the event details and it was a mess. We saw the need and knew this could be a platform. Also, we saw competitors in this space, which was a good sign—we want to see that—but no one is doing exactly what we’re doing.”
They were right: EVAmore has been working. As an additive resource for more than 100 bands, the platform works alongside booking agents and management companies since the goal is to be the in-between for event planners. It soothes an event planner’s peace of mind and helps artists get paid, which is significant in a culture of underpaid musicians.
The EVAmore online platform was built with the help of Pilgrim Consulting, a Franklin-based website development company with which Moreland and Stokel work closely. “As founders of a tech company, we had to learn the ins and outs of coding and how different languages work. It has been challenging, but we figured out what the process needs to look like for us, and [we] learned how to communicate with developers,” Moreland said.
Currently, EVAmore is available in the southeast region, but Moreland and Stokel, with intentions of being an industry powerhouse, see expansions to the southwest, west and midwest regions in the near future. They have a strong college and event planner networks and are currently focused on building stronger relationships with corporate event planners and destination management companies.
“We’ve made revenue, have had consistent growth, raised funding and are looking to hire a few people this year. We built the tech and we proved the model, and now we’re ready to move onto marketing and sales. This is new, but we’re starting to see a lot of opportunities for varying revenue streams,” Moreland said.
EVAmore is currently holding a fundraiser through iFundWomen, a crowdfunding platform for women-led businesses. They are aiming to raise 15k to launch a Nashville-based private festival showcase and catered event that will introduce EVAmore artists to the industry and to event planners who can book them. They hope the festival will help artists gain traction, recognition and fans while giving back to musicians by helping them be seen and heard.
Moreland and Stokel will also present their product at the 36|86 Entrepreneurship and Technology Conference in Nashville for entrepreneurs, thought leaders and investors from across the country. Plus, they will speak at Music Biz 2017, a conference in Nashville that advances the digital and physical monetization of music for artists and rights-holders.
The partnership between Moreland and Stokel pushes them forward, as does founding a business they are passionate about. “Someone once said to us, ‘At the end of the day, no one is going to care as much about your company as much as you do.’ That really opened my eyes,” Moreland recalled. “It’s us doing it.”
All photos courtesy of EVAmore.